Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary
Following the reception, Lillian says she is going to take the train home. Rearden refuses to accompany her, stating that he has business in the city the following morning. He goes to Dagny’s apartment and apologizes for coming to the reception with his wife. Dagny says there is no need for forgiveness; she has always accepted the fact that he is married and feels content with things as they are. When Rearden returns to his hotel room the next morning, he finds Lillian sitting there. She had felt sure he was not coming back to the hotel because he has a mistress somewhere. She does not know who the mistress is, but she assumes it is some low-class girl who is content to fulfill Rearden’s animal passions without love. She tells Rearden that she will never grant him a divorce and give up her social position.
Dr. Floyd Ferris visits Rearden to tell him that if he does not fulfill the metal needs of Project X, Ferris will expose Rearden as a criminal for giving metal to Ken Danagger beyond the allotted quota. Rearden refuses even if it means jail time, and the two men are formally indicted.
Eddie Willers eats lunch with his worker friend in the cafeteria. He mentions that he is worried about Dagny, who believes there is a “destroyer” out to cripple the nation. Dagny wants to save Danagger and goes to see him. She is kept waiting several hours; Danagger’s secretary tells her that an unexpected visitor arrived to talk to Danagger. When Dagny is finally admitted into the office, Danagger seems at peace and announces that he is retiring. Dagny knows the destroyer has been there and begs Danagger not to disappear. Danagger insists that he is through. He is leaving his coal company to whoever wants it just as Ellis Wyatt left his oil field.
As Rearden looks over his metalworks, Francisco d’Anconia arrives unannounced. He chastises Rearden for believing that self-interest is wrong. Rearden has always condemned himself for his virtues rather than his vices. Rearden’s efforts and production that have enabled people to support themselves. D’Anconia asks Rearden what Atlas should do as he is holding the world on his shoulders if he feels he is weakening. When Rearden says he does not know, d’Anconia tells him that Atlas should shrug. A siren blares, signaling a break in the line and interrupting their conversation. A furnace has burst, spewing molten metal across the floor. D’Anconia and Rearden manage to stop the flow.